Thursday, July 31, 2014

Retirement

I recently completed all of RAGBRAI — no skipping the extra miles on the Karras Loop, no riding the sag wagon, no agreeing to drive someone's vehicle for just one day.

That's 483 miles on a bike. Some of that time passed in conversation (and whining); some of it, in detailed observation of my surroundings; the rest of it, in thinking.

None of my thoughts were particularly deep, but I did come to one conclusion that I've stuck with since getting off the saddle:

It's time for me to retire from blogging.

Nothing in particular prompted the feeling, but once the thought entered my mind, it stayed there.

This seems like good practice in trusting my gut, and if my gut has steered me wrong, well, I'll trumpet my relaunch to round all of you back up.

Anyways, the past five-ish years of blogging have been a good run/good ride, puns not intended but also not deleted. 

I appreciate everyone who's followed me from Illinois to Iowa, and those who have joined somewhere along the way.

I'll still hopefully be providing snapshots of my meals, workouts and cats on Twitter, Instagram and Daily Mile. Let's keep in touch virtually!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A reality check right before RAGBRAI

I've had a lingering case of the PFSes for a while now.

PFS, of course, stands for "poor (freaking) Sadye."

I'll admit it, and I won't run through its various recent manifestations.

I will say that it was flaring up rather significantly yesterday, when I rode to work after having failed to make time for a short run. (Gotta pack my bag and prep my apartment for RAGBRAI ... )

I was locking up my bike and soaking in the absolutely perfect weather, regretting that I was merely standing in it instead of running in it, when I heard someone call: "Isn't it harder to bike in a skirt?"

My questioner didn't send out any creepy vibes, so I just smiled and said: "Well, yeah, but I wear shorts underneath the dress."

"Ah, gotcha," he said, riding away cheerfully.

It was then that I noticed his lower leg was a prosthetic.

Man, did I feel ashamed of all the self-pity I've indulged in for the past few months.

Why should I feel sorry for myself? There's nothing wrong with me but my attitude.

I've done all the prep work I need to do, from packing to travel planning to riding. All that's left now is to wait for the fun to start — I'm going on vacation, not boot camp.

"See" you all after RAGBRAI.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rain on my parade? I think not

I went for my first run in nearly six weeks on Friday: two miles.

I'd planned to alternate between running and walking every quarter-mile.

That lasted all of one walk segment. Partly because I got a late start; mostly because going slow felt just fine.

I also didn't plan to get caught in a downpour, but it happened anyway. And yes, when I saw that there was a light drizzle with chances of thunderstorms, I considered staying in and staying dry.

Obviously, I didn't cave, and my determination was applauded by a bicyclist chugging through the same storm.

Many of my leg muscles were less thrilled the next day, but I'll tolerate their complaints after their surprisingly good performance during the run.

A text from running/riding buddy Regina that arrived later summed up the experience best: "So I went for a run and it didn't suck! This bodes so well for post-RAGBRAI."

Agreed.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Plenty of people are nice to bikers

I read the Des Moines Register just about every day, and I see Des Moines Bike Collective posts in my Facebook newsfeed almost as often.

There's been a lot of negativity about bicycling from both those sources — angry letters to the editor, stories about bikers dying and refutation of criticism of riding.

Add in some pretty meh rides of my own, and it was starting to feel like I lived in Eeyore's world.

Fortunately, though, the doom-and-gloom clouds recently broke, and I realized just how nice the majority of people I encounter are.

The security guards in the building where I work are incredibly helpful. If one's not opening the doors for me, another's telling me how I can get in and out easier.

Just as nice was the woman who saw me the day part of my skirt got stuck in my front wheel while I was walking through a doorway. Thank you, good Samaritan, for holding the door while I untangled myself.

People inside the building, as well as on the trail, have quite a bit of praise for my milk-crate-carrier and the kitty litter tub I use to protect my stuff on rainy days. (Maybe I should see whether Tidy Cats will sponsor me.)

Those compliment-givers include volunteers with the Bike Collective, whose valet service I've benefited from a few times. It's very sweet that they volunteer to park bikes during events instead of attending them.

Running has taught me not to expect people to cheer on my hobbies unless they also share that pastime — it's a pleasant surprise to receive support from people who may or may not share my biking habit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No trail left behind

I have been a somewhat lazy blogger, but I've been a relatively ambitious biker. You win some, you lose some.

As I mentioned recently, the mileage is certainly adding up, and I am happy to say I've been able to vary my routes — even in spite of recent flooding.

Trail fatigue was a problem for me last year, so that's why I'm patting myself on the back for exploring new trails.

Here's what I would've crossed off my Des Moines biking bucket list, if I had such a thing.

* Great Western Trail, south of Cumming. I was surprised by quite a bit about the Cumming-to-Martensdale portion of this trail.

It's hillier than the north chunk — not truly hilly, but definitely with more inclines. It's in rougher shape, too, despite being so rural.

And man, is it rural. The roads are neither straight, nor on a grid, nor paved. I've definitely become a city slicker.

* Raccoon River Valley Trail complete loop. I'd never been north of Panora or north of Minburn until the BACooN Ride.

Since I'd done large chunks of it before, nothing necessarily surprised me, but I was glad to have conquered the entire loop. (Still unclaimed: the northern stretch from Herndon to Jefferson.)

Especially on a day where I felt pretty blah physically and mentally, and where I seriously feared I'd melt in the humidity. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

* High Trestle Trail. My most recent exploration came when Cory and I rode from Ames back to Des Moines, after returning a truck we borrowed from a buddy who lives there.

After 12 hot, hilly, humid miles, we picked up the High Trestle and did it all — and it was totally worth that first challenging portion!

I don't think photos do the bridge justice (especially not my sweaty smartphone selfie).

Conditions weren't great for lingering over the perfect shot.
I can't wait to go back along that smooth, spacious pavement, maybe take a detour to Snus Hill Winery, and hang out on that overlook ... after putting bug spray on.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A month's worth of fretting over RAGBRAI preparation

I can always find something to worry about. This blog is jam-packed with proof of that, if you've somehow missed every race-run-up post.

RAGBRAI is no exception, and some of the folks I ride with are good at — inadvertently, I'm sure — feeding that tendency.

One participated in the RAGBRAI pre-ride, so he has plenty to say about the extreme hills at the end.

Another waxes dramatic about the lack of long rides he's gotten in and how the ones he has done have knocked him out, sending me on a frantic mental search of lengthy rides and how fatigued I was after them.

Recently, yearly mileage started to be tossed around. Comparisons were made, to each other and to the suggested 1,000-plus threshold to attain before RAGBRAI.

By that point, all the negativity from others (but mostly my own self) had worn me down to where I couldn't even be bothered to work up a panic over my mileage.

Then the humidity broke, and I rode for nearly 50 miles at my own pace with plenty of water. And I started to wonder just how many miles I'd put in.

As it turns out, that ride put me around 900 for the year, if I've been accurately reporting my mileage on Daily Mile.

How many more times do I have to tell myself?

RIDE YOUR PACE.

ADJUST TO CONDITIONS.

This year, hopefully, Independence Day means freedom from turning what used to be a beloved holiday into a source of frustration and fuel for self-criticism.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A day full of firsts

I had two good reasons not to commute by bike yesterday: scattered thunderstorms and a slow leak in my back tire.

But I did it anyway and am disproportionately proud of myself for it.

The light rain on my way to work wasn't much of a problem. I tossed everything that needed to stay dry into a clean cat-litter tub and congratulated myself on a first successful commute in the rain. (It's been a very lucky two months.)

The leak was a little bit more of an issue. It was slow enough that I knew I could pump the tire up right before leaving and arrive with plenty of pressure left.

After that, though, I'd need expert guidance on how to patch or replace the tube. Fortunately, my bike-mechanic boyfriend was only a block away.

It was the perfect opportunity for me to finally try doing it myself — we weren't on a trail with bugs swarming us, or in a hurry to get somewhere.

So after three years of owning a road bike, I did it, with Cory talking me through it and lending a hand (literally) at times, and I'm confident that I could do it by myself if need be.

Granted, it would take much longer and involve much more struggling. That's fine. It's preferable to being afraid to take a long ride by myself, to feeling powerless, to hoping a friendly expert happens to be nearby in case of a flat.

With that done, I was ready to ride home — and the rain was ready to begin again. This was no light drizzle; it was a steady stream that, by the end, stung my forearms and clouded my vision.

Honestly? It was kind of fun, especially because home was at the end of a 1.5-mile-ish ride. (Much more fun than being 10 miles away.)

It also might've been excellent training for tomorrow's Bacoon Ride, if the forecasts are right.